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Golden Age Prose: La novela picaresca


This course explores the history, culture, ideology, and literature of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spain as illustrated through the most representative fictional genres of the period: the picaresque, the pastoral, the Morisco, and short stories. Several cultural and historical factors during the Golden Century in Spain have inspired the artistic creativity of many writers that manifests itself in a great variety of genres, dictions, and styles. Taking into account Rojas’ Celestina (1499), Lazarillo (1554), Montemayor’s Diana (1561), the Abencerraje (1561), Cervantes’ Novelas ejemplares (1613), Quevedo’s Buscón (1626), and Zayas’ Desengaños amorosos (1647), among others, we will examine early modern Spanish fiction with an interdisciplinary approach. While we situate the works in their literary contexts, we also consider how the writing of fiction interacts with various cultural factors including contemporary social problems, religious and intellectual movements, and Spain’s encounter with worlds theretofore unknown. Through a close reading and analysis of the major fictional works of the period, the principal objective of this course is twofold: 1) to sharpen students’ analytical skills and research acumen as literary scholars; 2) and to strengthen their knowledge and understanding of different modes of Spanish prose and literary movements between 1490s and 1650s. All readings, class discussions, and written assignments will be in Spanish. The course will count as either MA or PhD coursework.

A thorough study of the development of the picaresca novel in its cultural, economical and political contexts from 1499 (La Celestina) to 1612 (Cervantes’ Novelas ejemplares) for graduate students. Based on close reading and analysis of the major works of the genre in its literary context, special emphasis will be placed on how literature responded to a variety of factors including the conflicted politics of race and religion, social-demographic problems (poverty, migration, delinquency), spiritual and ideological movements (Christian humanism, the Reformation, and Counter-Reformation), and the discursive practices of imperial Spain.

All readings, class discussions, and written assignments will be in Spanish. The course will count as either MA or PhD coursework.

Course Objective: The principal objective of this course is to develop students’ skills and sophistication as literary critics through an in-depth study of the picaresque novel. We will combine knowledge of diverse disciplines (history, political science, religious studies, economics, and sociology) with a thorough study of literature (including the genesis of the picaresque, its technical and stylistic characteristics, and the problematics of the genre). Through critical reflections on the most important works of the genre, students can acquire a more sophisticated knowledge of the so-called picaresque narrative, a refined grasp of different modes of inquiry and the importance of interdisciplinary approach to the interpretation of literature, and a well-developed ability to communicate and defend the findings of independent research.

Required Texts

Fernando de Rojas. La Celestina.

Anónimo. Lazarillo de Tormes.

Francisco Delicado. La Lozana andaluza.

Mateo Alemán. Guzmán de Alfarache.

Francisco de Quevedo. El buscón.

Miguel de Cervantes. “Coloquio de los perros” & “Riconete y Cortadillo”.



Previously Offered:

Spring 2016, Fall 2016